Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review: Mockingjay

The final volume of the Hunger Games was aboout what I expected, and it was nothing like I expected. In the arc of the trilogy, this is the time that the rebels try to take the Empire down. I expected the Empire to be despicable, and I expected some "maybe the rebels are just as bad" rhetoric. What I didn't expect is the intensity. Collins makes the ending so dark and disturbing that I was seriously thinking near the end that some parts would end up being hallucinations. I don't know how they're going to film some of the struggle at the end, because it seems to point toward an R rating no matter how you slice it.

This is not a Young Adult book by the end, and to her credit, I was genuinely disturbed in a way that I haven't been disturbed by even writers like Stephen King. But again, the moral backbone usually to be found in King is very difficult to find here. Katniss finally gets to be truly heroic (after spending some of the early chapters moping way too much), but in the plot's resolution, I'm not sure what her heroism actually achieves. Again,Katniss runs around and does her thing but the real power resides and real "progress" is made elsewhere.

I give Collins credit for taking the story to the horrible places that a story about making teenagers kill each other should go, but personally, I'd like a little more "what does this do to the people in general" rather than "which boy will she choose?" drama. I could have told you that going in, too, so I'll just chalk that one up to the fact that I'm not a teenage girl and move on. But the lack of moral reflection after all the horrible events does trouble me a bit. Another way in which this book is genuinely disturbing.

When I picked up The Hunger Games I was wondering if I'd recommend it to my 11-year-old boy. When I finished Mockingjay I was wondering if I'd even recommend it for an 18-year-old, not because of quality or originality, but simply because of intensity, and intensity that I'm not entirely convinced is worth it.

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